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Spring Cleaning – Old Post Drafts #2

Continuing my Spring Cleaning project – here is my second post as I go through my drafts folder and decide to keep (and finish) old post thoughts or delete them away. The first post in this series is here.

“I Don’t Use Steam Much Anymore” (8/7/2014)

Steam is that ultra convenient platform that I have had some bad experiences with. I go swathes of time without updating the service. This particular post outline had four bullet points and nothing more. They were:

  1. It doesn’t know my birthday – this always drives me crazy about Steam when I want to watch a video game video. It has my credit card information on file, that’s great for when I buy games, but god forbid it knows my birthday and allows me to watch any video that my birthday qualifies me for without having to re-input it. A basic quality of life change (that probably shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but it does. Just one of those things.)
  2. They suck to deal with – I still recall the worst purchase experience of my life when I bought a game for $19.99 on one day, and it went 90% off the next day ($1.99) and Steam refused to credit me the difference. I didn’t even want money back, just a credit, and I’ll go buy another game with it (that would have cost more than $18). They refused. No other retailer would get away with that.
  3. It’s a race to the bottom pricing event – that does not build loyalty. Steam is to gaming as Subway is to food. It’s convenient. It’s always there. They both just charge cheaper and cheaper and give it away, and not necessarily getting better at it or making a product that is good for you.
  4. F@ck me. (yes, it said that. I have no clue what that means, or what kind of day I was having in August 2014, but that was my moment of clarity – so it seems.)

Outcome: Delete due to being same old same old. Steam will be that platform I’ll never reconcile with due to the past and what I feel it does to the market, but I also know I am in an extreme minority in that viewpoint. I will still use it when I see a good deal or feel like I have to, but I will never be a big fan.

“Payment Models – Analogies” (8/8/2014)

This post has been done to death and keeps coming around. The constant “what is best” (B2P, F2P, Subscription, Early Access, etc. etc.). I tried to simplify things by using analogies but some of them weren’t that great and the clarity and end to this debate we are all seeking to find was not going to be found in here anyway. I used a concert as B2P, a street performer as F2P, and social assistance / welfare for Subscription. All decent ones but analogies are so imperfect because they aren’t the actual things you are talking about. I think by now people just have their own personal comfort zones on each and no amount of debate of analogies (good or bad) will change that.

Outcome: Delete due to dead horse kicking. As much fun as that is.

“Half Full” (4/4/2014)

Check out these awesome notes on this post, in their full entirety (including punctuation and capitalization)

COol story – half full, half empty HAS BEER

Syp, Syl

Attitude of bloggers

I feel whiny

That’s it. I literally had to look at this for a while and think “WTF was I talking about…” and after thinking through it came to the clear and obvious conclusion that bloggers like Syp and Syl are just positive all around, half full kind of people. I love their “tone” of blogging.They can make their points clearly in a non-whining or condescending manner. I like that. Sometimes when I post ranty I feel/worry that I am just coming across like a whiny baby. Maybe that is due to people just generally being harder on themselves (by people, I mean me) but I am unsure – DO I come across whiny? I don’t even have a full grasp on my own blog’s “tone”. I think that is because I write in whatever kind of mood I am in at the time.Constructive criticism, not fishing for anything but the truth!

Many bloggers have their own tone – everyone knows Syncaine’s, etc. The good news is, regardless, that I mentioned beer in a post. I need more posts with beer. Outcome: Delete. And drink a beer.

“Is it September Already” (8/30/2014)

Well, according to that draft date, no. No it isn’t Isey.

The notes for this post were another piece of inspirational magic.

August Review

Stop me if you have heard this one before. A blogger that does a full and comprehensive month end review, what an amazing idea! Maybe I should do that!

Sarcasm aside, I love TAGN’s monthly review posts but he has the chops, pedigree, and consistency to make those posts awesome and fun to read. It’s a short history trip every month about his blog but also for gaming in general with the 5/10 year look backs. I was definitely inspired by him to think about doing a post like that and especially because it was on the heels of Blaugust (which I completed) so I actually had a lot to review for a change. It never did happen, of course. Also, like the late night cram the day before exams, I clearly wasn’t willing to put the necessary work in. He can keep that all to himself, quite safely. Outcome: Delete due to way too much work to do and now irrelevant.

“Swap Free to Play” (8/31/2014)

Look, I know I had a ton of posts started in August and very few of them fleshed out. This was mostly because of the daily Blaugust event you had to always be thinking of ideas to post about. I did, at least. I really enjoyed the event and it  fired me back up to blogging – if even just as a therapeutic method of getting through a long end of summer. Every once in a while I get completely inspired to try something new. There are so many creative people out in the interwebs and Blognation doing awesome parodies and videos and songs. I have no talent like that. I was an inspiring young rapper back in my white privileged middle class upbringing in small town Canada, so I do fancy myself a lyricist. I once linked (probably all dead links now) a bunch of video game related things to the lyrics of “Don’t Believe the Hype” by my all time favourite band Public Enemy (I am not even kidding. Chuck D was a visionary.) I am almost embarrassed that I desecrated that revolutionary track lyrics that way.

Again, a lot of thought put into this Blaugust draft.

Heyyy, hooy

Hip hop hooray song

Unlike others where I can claim the 5th (can Canadians do that?) and faux confusion about what the hell was I thinking, I do remember this one clearly. It was the beginning of a rap parody of Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray”. Which you should 100% know, but just in case:

So the basis of the parody was taking the lyrics and turning into how a poorly planned MMO launch would have to “Swap Free to Play, hoooo, heyyy, hoooo” Here is a snippet of the original:

You drew a picture of my morning
But you couldn’t make my day, Hey!
I’m rockin’ and you’re yawning
But you never look my way, Hey!
I’m lickin down you darlin’
In every single way, Hey!
Your funny flow is foreign
And a green card’s on the way!

to the video game themed

You spent 100 million

But you couldn’t make me pay, Hey!

Your built another wow clone

It plays exactly the same way, Hey!

You had 200 programmers cramming

And tomorrow is payday, Hey!

Your bank account is empty

There is no other way!

 

Swap Free to Play, heeey hooo heeeyy hooooo

Now picture a bunch of nerds in the video above jamming to that. Outcome: Deleting to save the world from that disaster.

I feel like deleting these old drafts instead of bringing them to fruition is some sort of public service.

Blognation, you are welcome.

Destiny 2 Wishlist

With my new PC on delivery delay (went from April 25th to May 18th)  and still stuck in a trickling advancement with Destiny – I did get my Division code from Razor and installed it on my old Laptop. I really feel like that game might be best played on the PS4. 60″ TV and all. It was also hard to transition to the third person shooter aspect after being focused on Destiny for most of my gaming time. Granted, I only played for 15 minutes this morning but the backdrops were really beautiful as I went through a decimated New York.

Drifting on thoughts on what I’d like to see in Destiny 2 which is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2017. My wish list is simple for the game and it is mostly made up of things I wish Destiny 1 had. That is what sequels are for anyway, right? So here goes. With the why:

  1. Ships as social hubs: It is annoying to have to land at the tower to grab Vanguard bounties everyday. It has zero benefit except to land, run 20 steps, click 8 times, then orbit. Make ships social areas for friends but also have access to vendors either directly or via communication devices.. Shades of the old KOTOR here. The ships are awesome and fun to collect but offer nothing in terms of game play except to act as a transition phase to instances.
  2. Ships as content: With amazing space ships should come cool ship battles. Or at least some type of game to truly enjoy them. It could just be such a bigger part of the game, even if not a core or super important one. Some sort of shooting mini game as you approach a landing or something similar.
  3. Matchmaking for all levels and styles of game play: If WoW can make LFR tools for their most complex and challenging raid content then there is no excuse or reason why Bungie can’t do the same. Heck, just walk down the hall (figuratively) and ask.
  4. Vehicles: I really don’t expect this and it would be getting a bit too close to Planetside but there is an opportunity in Destiny to add in a bit more interaction on the vehicle front. The Sparrow races were a really cool feature.  There could be more opportunities to use vehicles as part of the game play
  5. Cross platform Play: Really don’t see what the point is in not having this – especially since it is the exact same game on all platforms. I get that PC doesn’t play well with Consoles (easier to shoot with a mouse) so maybe you need to restrict PVP in certain situations.  The health of the community would be far better off with more players. I also find it pretty funny that the PS4 got some exclusives – the sparrow for example – which now every single player in the game has. It does not feel exclusive one bit. Showing it off to your Xbox friends with a friendly side dose of trash talk would make exclusives have some sort of sense.

I am tapped out on the game and miss it. I can’t really advance past 315 without a ton of grind or a ton of luck. I did start leveling a Warlock but that is hard to go back to the basics when the higher end game play is so much fun. Until some DLC or D2 arrives I will have some options but I am now at the point where thinking about Destiny 2 is taking up more of my time than playing Destiny 1.

Do you have any hopes or dreams for D2?

March of the – F@*& S^$T!

This was supposed to be a post about advanced tips and tricks to help you with March of the Living, because I was supposed to have beat it about five minutes ago instead of having everyone die on what I am pretty sure was the last encounter in the entire game after banging my head against it all week. 20 days. 15 hours of “practice”. If you want to fully figure out this game on your own through multiple failures then you may not want to read the following tips. Once I sorted these out I was (am) able to get to or near the end every time. There isn’t anything spoilerish about the story but just some fundamentals that once you know make the experience far easier to play.

Dammit. Still, here are some tips:

  • Travel: The blue places are the ones I visited. In early play throughs I would avoid cities at all costs unless an absolute necessity because the chance of scavenging anything useful without a big fight was low. It turns out, especially in the first map section, you don’t have to deal with overly hard zombies. You also still get your spoils if you kill them all, so even if it triggers an event just kill the zombies and you get your lewts. Doing this I was able to amass far more food and ammo than I needed for the end part. I would now suggest to hit ALL the cities on the first map, and on the second map take a route that has as many cities in your path as reasonably doable, and the third map avoid them. The third map has really, really hard zombies on it.
  • Fighting: It’s a bit boring but standard Rotters are a waste of ammo. Go up, take one swing, walk away 2 steps (that resets their swing timer), go back, take one swing, rinse/repeat. You can take on full packs of Rotters this way, 5 or 6 easily at a time. I still always used ammo on Grabbers and prioritize Screamers over all others.

  • Here you see that it is actually easier to just do it with one character. Put one off to the side to safety and get them all gathered up for an easy take down. Also – notice the rifle, shotgun, pistol ammo and food I have at this point.
  • Keep your group small. I found Barry at the end of the first map. The larger the group the harder it is to feed them all. It was just Barry and I all throughout Map 2, and by the time I found 2 more people (and my kid) near end of Map 3 I was almost done the game. Ton of ammo, ton of food. You can have as many as six people (and that would have been helpful at the end) but I literally didn’t find that many on this play through.
  • Don’t be a hero unless you have tons of supplies and feel good about it. The safest route had me allowing all sorts of people to die on my way to save my own son. Selfishness pays off in this game.
  • I don’t think this counts as a spoiler, and I was quite surprised that it ended the game, but you can’t let your son die. It’s instant game over. Not still survive and mourn, not even a cutscene. Just game over. I didn’t really like that part. The kid moves slow and can’t attack worth a damn. The screamers can outrun him so if you don’t drop them fast enough its bad news.
  • Never, ever flee unless you are going to die for sure. You lose items, ammo, food, people…. it’s not worth it.

Thematically I don’t fully agree with the “your kid is missing and you must save them, so take your sweet ass time and explore everything along the way to get the experience” <ahem> Fallout 4 <ahem> but that really is the only way to beat this game. All of my initial play throughs were rush through to get to him but I never had enough food or ammo to survive.  Figuring out the above tips made the game a much better experience overall, so put them to good use.

Dead End with Destiny

Well, the love affair with Destiny has come to a standstill along with my character progression. That is a 100% correlation.

My Titan is “stuck” at 312 light level. This stuck mode is my conundrum because I can’t do the next level of challenges until I hit 320 light level, and I don’t believe I can get there unless I play the game the way I don’t want to.

The ways (that I can sort out, there isn’t really much clarity on it in game) that I can advance my character further is as follows:

  1. Weekly Nightfall Strike – 320 light, no matchmaking
  2. Challenge of Elders – 320 light, no matchmaking
  3. Kings Fall Raid – 300 light, no matchmaking
  4. The Iron Banner – PVP
  5. The Court of Oyrx – PVE world event
  6. Lord Shaxx Bounties – PVP

Of that group I can only/want to do Court of Oryx. I did grind out a bunch of them on the weekend but wasn’t fortunate enough to get the 320 – 335 gear as advertised. I don’t enjoy (and I am terrible at) PVP so far, and with my sketchy schedule and lack of “friends” at PS4 non matchmaking events are hard for me to do.

This is all me, not Destiny, so I am not really complaining. This is where the WoW treatment would be awesome for a player like me (LFR anyone?) . My Hunter is already light level 300 and my Warlock is only level 7 so I could still play by redoing the content I have been already.  With Destiny 2 a year away there needs to be a compelling reason for me to keep doing existing. Moving my character forward was fun enough in the existing content but when that tap dries, what else is there?

Maybe I am missing something but I would love to hear the experience of better and other Destiny players who have passed where I am stuck at to see if there is something else I could be doing to advance.

My new laptop arrives this week with The Division as a bundle, so Destiny may be losing a big fan of the game and someone playing many hours a week. I wonder if other people are in the same boat.

The realization of my full on casualness is in full acceptance. I feel shame.

March of the Living

I consider myself well equipped to handle a zombie apocalypse – both mentally and physically. I have spent years preparing myself for the inevitability by reading great history books such as World War Z, playing long hours of zombie related shooters (Left 4 Dead one AND two!), keep to a good fitness routine, and have experimented with other simulators such as Resident Evil (games and movies),  and more realistic ones such as Project Zomboid. I am fully prepared for this eventuality. So when Psycochild recommended I pick up a copy of a new game on Steam, March of the Living, I was compelled. I had a free afternoon and figured this little title would consume about an hour of my time and just be another notch in my belt to prove my worthiness to face the impending apocalypse. Would hardly be worth my time, but hey, it’s not like pro Zombie killers like me would be the only ones playing the game.

10 days.

That’s all I can survive. That is actually my best. On average I think I am lasting 5 or 6 days.

I can’t stop playing.

This is Greg. Pretty handy to have all of those gun skills for an apocalypse, but it hardly has done me well.

March of the living gives an instant classic feeling. It feels familiar and comfortable as a side scrolling resource game with fun (yet simple) combat and is far more complex under the hood. The basic of the game is that you need to traverse a map to complete objectives. The main one is set when you start (find your girl and child) and new ones pop up as you go. Here is the map:

Pretty simple to follow, and as you can see in the top right there are three screens of this spider web. The fun part is it is randomly generated (so there is no learning the best route). Each of those lines is a true representative of distance – so the longer the line, the longer you will walk in that area. Players walk at (napkin math) of about 6km per hour, which is relatively fair according to Google. When you pick a new area you walk towards it and there are events that can happen mid travel (zombie fights, random encounters) but you are always guaranteed to have some sort of special event by the time you get to the end. I don’t want to use any spoilers but they are fitting of the setting and they do not always repeat. A choice one way one time may not have the same result the next. This is fitting of keeping it interesting and the random elements make sure you just can’t play out every scenario and know the best choices.

I will use one example of a text choice and how the environment does change. I won’t show the outcome so it’s not really a spoiler. When walking along…

The choices I often make (that sometimes really, really hurts) is because I am just so curious on what could happen. I play way too nice and am not nearly paranoid enough. The Traits are if you have the proper partner (you can meet people to travel with you) and I have had a few pop up for me advantageously.

After my choice (and outcome) the background changed to be appropriate for the encounter.

The heart of the game is resource management. If you get too hungry, you get fatigued faster, have temporary health loss and have combat penalties. If you get too fatigued, you get in game penalties and lose health faster. If you run out of health you die. Sleep is the fun one – because you rarely find safe places to sleep (unless you are in a city) and that becomes a mini game of watching the growl meter and deciding when to wake up (which does not happen instantly). It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and just one more minute of sleep… I found that you can push that meter pretty far but at the ‘S’ it is ALWAYS safe. So far.

My experience so far has lead me to these tips:

  • Health is the hardest thing to replenish. Meds are few and far between. I try to avoid getting hit at all costs
  • I rarely have run out of ammo on my play throughs (it has happened, but hasn’t been the main issue for me dying) so until you are dying consistently from lack of ammo I’d focus on keeping health high.
  • If you are low on health you cannot let hunger get to red – the temporary HP decrease will kill you
  • Food is scarce. Really scarce. I run out of food before all else for the most part. I have prioritized it.
  • I have lasted longer alone. With food being so scarce, the more bodies you have with you the more you have to feed. It makes fights way safer (and sleeping in dangerous areas as well because you can leave a lookout) but it really drains the resources.
  • On long journeys plan to be close to cities – they are very dangerous places but the best place to find supplies. So if you don’t get fortunate to find things you need on your normal travels, go to the city and take the necessary risks
  • If you are very hungry or very tired but near the end of a travel encounter, get there first. Sometimes the encounter is a safe place to rest, or a barter stand. Frustrating burning through my hunger meter to get sleep only to take 10 more steps and be in a safe town.

At the end (death) there is a short synopsis of your journey. My only negative on the game so far is that this scrolls very, very slow and you can’t scroll back and forth. I’d fix that with a mousewheel control.

I recommend this as a buy if you love zombies and aren’t turned off by the indie nature and graphics. It really is a very fun game. It is $15 right now so you have to judge if you think that is worth it, but I appreciate well designed efforts like this and it has proved a true challenge with excellent replay-ability. It is a challenge so don’t expect a cake walk. It is the zombie apocalypse, after all.

Spring Cleaning: Old Post Drafts (Part 1)

All bloggers have a bunch of post drafts started that either get revisited and completed or sit in post purgatory, waiting to be further inspired or expanded. I hate letting those linger. I have a slew of them in my folder and for funzies decided to go through them and either finish them off or delete them. I have done a pretty solid job of not letting them hang around too much with the oldest one only backdated to 2014. For each I’ll list the title and the gist of the post depending on what I had in the body, and what I plan to do with it. The result will be a nice and tidy back end for I HAS PC. (Mind out of the gutter please)

“Stats Fun” (2/26/2014)

This entire post was in reference to one I read over at Kill Ten Rats that made my day – which in turn linked to an XCKD comic about germs. The basis was that in a world of seven billion people “one in a million” events happen seven thousand times a day. I found that very cool, and made a post saying that it was cool. That post had absolutely nothing to add to the conversation in any way, shape, or form and I didn’t complete it or continue it for that reason. That is why I am giving it the Outcome: delete here too. I didn’t even save the link on the draft, which is a shame, because I still remember how much I loved that post.

Here is a link to that comic though, Google found that easy. I sent it to a woman in my office who is a germophobe and a uses hand disinfectant often. She hates me now.

“Patent Trolls” (3/20/2014)

The entire body of the post was just a link to an article I read on the Economist about patent trolls that I must have felt strongly about one way or another, but I didn’t go beyond the link. I often email myself things as a reminder to think about them or revisit them and here is that same sort of style. I clearly wanted to do something with it, but didn’t, so now I am  Outcome:deleting it as a post that never was (or will be)

“WildStar – Over The Shoulder Shooter with RPG Elements?” (3/31/2014)

First off (to get it out of the way) yes, I know, it is called a 3rd person shooter. Someone corrected me on that on another blog recently – I do not know why I have a hard time remember that. The term always escapes me and I default to the less eloquent (yet truthful) “over the shoulder…” tag instead. I am working on it. This post started as a response to the first WildStar video I saw, and was yet again a look at gaming terminology and how it is inadequate. MMO, quite literally, is any game that is online with other people. There is no succinct or precise number accepted by the industry. “Massively” is not defined. In this post I explored that due to the action style of the videos I was watching for WildStar whether or not we could consider it more like Mass Effect than WoW as it definitely played more like it. I gave suggestions on some other, equally terrible acronyms such as MMO for marketers to use (for free!) such as:

  • LBOG (Lobby Based Online Game) – this would suit Diablo, Destiny, etc. quite well (and more accurate than MMO)
  • FPSRPG (First Person Shooter Role Playing Game – genre-bending! Great buzzwords for a marketing department)
  • OSORPG – I have NO CLUE what I meant by this one. Only Sometimes Online RPG? Hrmpf. Stumped here.

While the Outcome:delete here is obvious due to it being a bad post all around and the WildStar train has left the station, I do feel somewhat good that games like Destiny and The Division are showing that “MMOs” don’t need traditionally interconnected zones to be considered a world. I have argued for a while now that World of Warcraft could be better suited as a lobby based game and that I think it will end up there in a couple expansion cycles, once it is available on consoles. I feel more connected in the Destiny world than I have in a long time on Azeroth. I also, not oracle-like in that article said I would go play WildStar when it went F2P. It didn’t take a genius to call that at that time, trying to launch a hardcore sub game in a world of quality free-to-plays, even that early in its life cycle.

“MMO Connections” (3/31/2014)

I am a nostalgic fool to a fault. I get sad when I visit old places that have gaming meaning to me (in game) and even when I visit my old message boards from the EQ test days I get a lump in my throat. It’s odd, and probably unhealthy.  I can’t even really put my finger on it. My old WoW guild boards are gone, but they restarted them (only to see the guild look like it stopped raiding and growing, in “comfort mode” and they have new boards that I sometimes visit just to see who is there and what is going on. I felt so connected to so many people from my raiding days. I would literally spend 30-40+ hours a week with them – so yes, I miss them. I do have to let that all go sometime though. One a larger note, this is why I will probably never feel satisfied with any MMO again because I can’t dedicate that time ever again – and it is that kind of commitment that really makes a game special. I sorted out quite a while ago that it was me, not them that was the problem. (Them being MMOs). Anyway – back to the point, of which Nostalgia is strong.

This site, The Burial Grounds, was hosted and organized by an old guildmate of mine from DAOC. It was a great premise – when you were done your adventures with your online characters there were monuments for them. There are unique designs, banners, tombstones, everything, including where they lay (and shooting star backgrounds!). It also worked as a way to connect old gaming friends together as many people remember the character name more than the human being name (not judging). It was multi-game and I think a great, fun service. He stopped posting there in 2008 but I always thought it should be brought back to life as a great way for people to find old friends. Here is an example.

Due to my strong feelings about this, I am going to Outcome: Save and Finish this post at a later date. Maybe instead of waiting for someone else to retake up the mantle, I will!

“What Gets Measured Gets Done” (5/1/2014)

This was a post from WildStar beta where they rank your performance based off of stats. I lamented on a  I was 3rd in DPS (out of three), 1st in staying alive, and 2nd in healing. I received a bronze reward for this. It bothered me because I knew how hard healing was in Stonetalon Lair (at the time, in beta, anyway – when it was all hardcore) so on my action slots I took a heal over time ability to help take the pressure off of the healer on my rotation. This did make my DPS suffer a bit but I felt I should have been better rewarded by staying alive the best and also propping up the healer. Instead, the tunnel vision DPS guys get the glory. And the girls, apparently. I don’t even know if that mechanic is even measured in WildStar anymore and it isn’t like anyone is playing, right? I’m so sadface about WildStar – I really wanted to get through the main story line but it forces me to feel like I need to take Ritalin just to play longer than an hour. It is not working for me.The concept of measuring is still valid in MMOs in general, and has been debated to death and back to life again (post zombification?) and I have nothing new or exciting to add to that discussion in that post. Outcome: Delete due to relevance

There will be a few parts to this as an ongoing “feature” until I clean it all out. It is fun to look back before moving forward.

Spam Posts as a Measure of Popularity

All of my spam posts caught in my Askimet filter are about two games right now, split pretty much right down the middle.

Blade and Soul and Runescape.

Most of them are  about selling gold in those two games.

What does this mean? Is there really that big of a market for gold in either that it’s worth spamming about? Or is my blog specifically targeted to those two games because of things I post? (nothing about either, ever, that I recall)

Perhaps they are telling me that is where I need to be, or they are measuring some quality of those titles against my writing.

Outlook is bleak.

At least the Russians stopped harassing me.

 

WoW Prognosticating

I don’t have a bear / cat / owl in the race anymore, but watching WoW from afar I see some interesting changes coming down the pipeline.

I am taking a pretty wild shot in the dark to think about the future of the game but it just came to me like a shining beacon of light, a message from the After-WoW-life. I spent many, many years with multiple accounts in WoW (and multiple sub fees – this is prior to the WoW Token!) but I am long gone, maybe unreachable now. The game is also in a clear decline in terms of numbers (as everyone knows). Also, the classes and game mechanics are being dumbed down simplified and even main weapons are being whittled down to a single type points to some major changes on the horizon. The timeline for when I expect the below to happen is the expansion after the next. (If ever.). Feel the conviction!

  1. WoW will go to consoles. I know this isn’t a shocker, but those PS4 and XO controllers have more buttons than it looks like you will need to play with. The game works better as a lobby style game anyway so this is a very positive move. Everything is already garrisoned out (or class halls, upcoming expansion) while you wait to be teleported to your next instance
  2. Classes will change to “equipped weapons”, FFXIV style. WoW will finally be alt friendly and you can level up every class just by the weapon you wield. This level of alt friendliness is great in casual land. The weapons and weapon upgrades become the new grind. It will be hard to build an entire expansion around a single weapon for your character next expansion and then abandon it in future expansions.
  3. Expansions will come faster in smaller bites. Designing console dungeons and quest areas will allow a smaller team to publish content faster, at smaller costs (that will add up to more in the long run). This will finally allow people to vote with their wallets on what kind of content they want (instead of what kind of expansion they want) and then that content will now be offered more. This supports high level raids and dungeons, and saves development time from planned obsolescence content (leveling) with repeatable, high value content.

While that is a list that changes the fundamental nature of WoW at it’s core you don’t have to look far to see where the inspiration is for such a change in another Activision product. Destiny.

I have been playing a LOT of Destiny lately. It is a great game that is easily played in 30 minute chunks and has so many paths of  advancement. WoW has been working towards this in many ways, and the numbers on Destiny are shattering really. At one point almost a year ago there were 20 million players shooting it up. Then, when the Taken King launched it set records for concurrent players surpassing the first Destiny launch   If you add all of that up in a 12-14 month release schedule they probably did north of a billion dollars on the title. I wonder how that compares to overall WoW revenues today. Plus, Destiny has introduced it’s own micro-transaction system as well.

I know many of you are probably sceptical that Blizzard will change how WoW works, and part of me even feels like a more action oriented WoW could go to consoles as a WoW 2 or some such. One would suspect Activision is paying attention to what revenues are being driven by other camps they publish for and seeing the response to titles such as Destiny (and competitors, such as the Division, $330 Million in sales first 5 days..) it would make sense to leverage more Blizzard IP on consoles. It’s a big market, and Overwatch will be a good test to see if World of Warcraft will end up being the next MMO title on consoles. The fact that FFXIV can do it cross platform, same world, could be the attraction of the new generation of WoW players the game needs to continue to be a massive revenue generator.

I don’t suspect that they will let WoW go the route of EQ with progression servers. Making the game console friendly at some point would introduce new players to the game and could also bring back people like me. I am finding the Destiny experience perfect in terms of what I can give and what I want to get from a streamlined “MMO” experience. Perhaps this prognostication is as much as me projecting what I want – but I don’t believe Blizzard will let WoW go away quietly.

Did Apple Play that Wrong?

First off, to be clear (and it will be anyway) I am not an Apple fan-boy. I do have some of their products but for the most part I prefer the Android operating system for my phone. I like having the freedom of choice on what goes on there and what I can interact with. I do believe Apple makes beautiful products that are easy to use. So I’m not an Apple hater either.  I don’t have super strong opinions either way about the company. The only post I have tagged Apple on here is about the mobile game Flight Control (from 2010). And now this one.

As very-well reported everywhere in the world Apple denied doing something they were ordered to do by a court. I am not going to get into overarching privacy issues and discussions here on my typical 500-1000 word post. The gist, that everyone gets, is that the government wanted terrorism information and wanted (well, compelled – through the courts) Apple to build in an OS change so they could access it. Apple fought back on privacy grounds saying that that vulnerability would then be open for abuse by undesirable persons to then use it on unsuspecting citizens  and steal all of their digital secrets.

Ignoring the part of the argument that in order for that to happen someone from Apple would have to leak it in the first place after making it – which is a contrary argument already, because if you don’t trust your own people then there are probably already ways out there to hack it already. It turns out there is.

While Apple took the high road stance to show they wouldn’t risk their customer’s privacy all they really did was prove publically that it isn’t safe already. The methods to get into their devices is already out there. So in essence we now know that their devices are not secure, and they can’t provide the privacy and security they sought to claim in the first place. This is where I think they may have played it wrong.

If they would have built a one time door and destroyed it after and said “Our devices are so secure that the only way to hack into it is if we do it.” and “We did it as per the judges order, but then destroyed it afterwards”  then everyone would “know” how secure their devices were.  Instead, they took a stance (that was largely unpopular with general ‘Murica, googling poll results) and the government found their own way. Now the world is aware that you can already hack Apple devices. For those in the tech know-how that probably isn’t much of a surprise but for the average user who thinks their phone is a fortress it probably is.

Of course, if they had agreed to build-in the back door to protect the fantasy that their device was impenetrable then they would be called sellouts to the government, which may have been a worse result. Apple doesn’t really have that kind of hacker image already though, right? Aren’t the stereotypical apple users hipsters, artists, and non-techies?

Either way, I’m just really surprised there isn’t more public outcry for how un-secure the Apple device is – real or imagined.

Revisiting Destiny

I had a huge itch to play a shooter this weekend. I miss the genre. I remember playing DOOM death matches over baud modems in my university dorm in the 90’s. I mostly fell out of the genre because of the direction it took. I loved Rainbow Six and the types of shooters that smarts and tactics could prevail over straight twitch. This is why I never really played any of the Call of Duty games (well, the single player campaigns I did, but stayed away from online) and the ultimate online shooter for me was Battlefield 2142 which was a nice mix of squad play and tactics over pure twitch. I still HATED bunny hopping in that game too, but that was about the worst you had to worry about.

Fast forward to today and I am currently FPS game-less. I didn’t finish Fallout 4 but that is far more RPG than FPS. I haven’t played the Battlefield series since 2142 (almost played the followup, until I discovered they removed the ability to go prone. Since when can human beings not lie down to shoot a gun?) Project Reality, which is still my favourite FPS of all time takes a lot of time to get in and out of – and I need to be able to get in and out quickly. I was very close to buying the Division, until I found out that my cries to my IT department for more graphics and computing power in a small form did not go unheard – and this is coming to me end of April (which has a free copy of the Division). I started looking and reading on what could satisfy my itch, and I found I already DID have a title, just one I haven’t played in a long time.

Destiny.

Destiny is the game that has the dumbest story ever (ok, maybe a bit harsh. Dumbest story ever written by a AAA company. Hell, a basic understandable story, even full of tropes and tired and rehashed elements would have been better.) I summed it up on this post pretty simple, based off of the OUT of game Grimoire cards. I mean, who wants to read or experience lore IN game?

First off, there are high level themes of light and darkness.

It’s odd that the enemy that threw the universe into a tizzy isn’t something tangible or something anyone can agree on. I’d understand an army (or whatnot) but just a premise, a theory – how does that “attack”? None of this is really clear. Does it even exist or it is an evil inside each of us? Something hit us. Not an army, not a force to be reckoned with. Philosophy hit us and it hurt! How do we have a collapse and not know our enemy? At least we have a clear hero! The Traveler. Our lord and savior.

The Traveler, graphically, is a giant ball of light hovering above the last city on Earth.  It doesn’t communicate through itself per se, but through The Speaker.

Here the speaker is described as a high priest. So we have a savior that doesn’t directly communicate to us who sacrificed itself to stop an attack by a theory or premise on all that we hold dear. The Traveler’s gift to stop the attack? Zombies! (aka – Guardians)

That’s right, the good guys are raising the dead to kill the uh, bad guys. Who don’t raise the dead. But you aren’t just any Zombie, you are one who was at a Russian spaceport! For some reason. Maybe shopping.

Oh, the “Ghost” – I forgot to explain that part. The “Ghost” brought you back from the dead and you need a “Ghost” to be your guide. A mechanical creature that (unlike you) cannot be replaced if it is killed.

So the Guardians are completely replaceable but the machines that Jiminy Cricket us are invaluable. I’m confused a bit. Who are the good guys again? The “light” zombies (Warlocks, Hunters, Titans) or the aliens that represent “darkness” (Knights, Wizards, Captains, Legionnaires). Maybe we have it all wrong. Maybe the “Darkness” is actually the good guy – trying to wipe the space zombies from the universe. That makes far more sense than what we have been given so far.

OK, so maybe I was a little harsh, but c’mon, drop $10,000 on writers and you get better than that. I blame drugs.

The good part is, outside of a terrible, embarrassingly deficient story, you have a really nice shooter all packaged up. It’s responsive, has great backdrops, a good PVE questing system, a group finder / CO-OP strike mission system, cool weapons and armor, and great customization – both in terms of skill trees and appearance. There is an awesome game there despite the story.

There has also been three expansions since I played last. The main reason why I quit last time was because I upgraded to a PS4 and of course my XBOX 360 characters couldn’t come with me, so starting fresh on a new system (after all the grinding and leveling I had already done) was enough of a deterrent to just give up on the game. But now I had fresh interest and the PVE component of it fit for me. So I started again.

The story is still, incredibly terrible. I think I have made that pretty clear. I’m just disappointed because of the huge opportunity it had (has?).

The game play is very good. My titan is level 16 with many levels to go (24) and new story lines and things to do from my last time in the game. I’m hoping when I get further along maybe they tied up some of the story elements but I am still guessing no, since every time I meet a new enemy or area, a prompt on the screen tells me to go to Bungie.Net to learn about it. I can still play this game despite this fault. For now.

Maybe the Division will free me from this Destiny.

(Un)happy Endings

I finished Pillars of Eternity and had an enjoyable time. My Steam time played shows ridiculous hours because I left the game on days at a time as I popped in and out. The game lent itself well to short play sessions (well, planned that way at least) that would stretch into “I can do one more room” (or area. or quest. or bounty). I like games that compel me to push on when I should stop playing. There is a LOT of lore in the world and they should be commended for that effort. I loved picking up books on bookshelves to read about some obscure captain of the guard, or a historical family in the area. Both of which I would never encounter or interact with, but which helped make the world feel more like a world.

I finished the game quite by accident. It probably should have been more obvious to me but I did want to finish all the companion quests and side ones I had before finishing the game. Once I realized I was most likely in the final stretches of the story  I also assumed that even if I finished the main quest line that I would be afforded the opportunity to complete my outstanding missions.

I was not.

This lead me to a small dissatisfaction with the way the game ended, in all of it’s finality. One of my favourite companion characters was a Dwarven Ranger named Sagani. Her quest is to find the reincarnated elder of her village and has been searching for him for five years. After I completed the game by interacting with the environment, the game went straight into “end” mode and gave a nice narration of what happened to all of the companions afterwards. Sagani, my best friend in the game didn’t get her mission completed and her fate was sealed.

[spoiler here – game is old, so not too worried, but if you plan on playing it and hate spoilers don’t read!]

[final warning!]

She searched for another 20 years before finding the reincarnation and when she returned home her husband was dead, some of her kids, and the village as she left it was not recognizable. I felt like a jerk for not completing her quest. How would it have changed her life? Truth be told, I WOULD have, so now my jerkiness made me feel like the game ripped me off from giving me the opportunity to finish all that I wanted before ‘ending’ the game. Now I had to go to a previous save point, ensure I finished all of the side quests I wanted to before redoing the content I already did (and don’t want to do) to see how that changes the fortunes of Sagani. Probably another three or four hours of playtime.

I am not sure how related this is but I am not really interested in the two expansions that are now out. Is it because no matter what happens there, their stories and fates are already sealed? The expansion takes place before the ending, so do I have to reload yet another pre-ending saved game to experience that content? I think that since the game is “done” in my experience it is discouraging me from buying the expansions. I am still trying to sort through that in my head.

Good on Obsidian for making me care so much about a character to actually go through the steps of replaying parts to ensure they end up okay. Bad on them for not having a way to end the game on my own terms, in my Keep, when I felt like I had accomplished all I needed to in their wonderfully crafted world.

Everquest Not Next

There was little surprise with the announcement of the cancellation of Everquest Next. Some hopes and dreams were minorly dashed as a game that never really was a game was finally ended the way it began. As an announcement. EQ:N was never really there so the announcement that they officially ended their prior announcement that they were building some successor had all the shock of telling a 25 year old that Santa wasn’t real. Well, duh, dad, I’ve known that since I was seven. Thanks for keeping the illusion alive for a while there though.

The real question is now, is what is really next? Next for EQ, and next for MMOs? There is no future so bright shade wearing on the horizon.

Daybreak and EQ are fortunate to have the huge success of their TLPs and continued ways to get a subscription fee. Really, I bet they are the third highest subscription gaining MMO out right now if you count it that way (after WoW and Eve, is anyone even collecting subs anymore?). They can (and should) ride that train to the next sell point. Remember Columbus Nova is a private equity investor and they normally run on 5 or 10 year investments. Get an asset, ramp it up, sell it to the next, bigger PE firm. Columbus wants a high return (many PE firms think it is a failure to not get 20x, or at least, that is a waste of their capital) so it probably makes sense that they would cancel something that would take a huge investment with little clear chance of success. I’ll be back to Phinigal soon as I finish Pillars of Eternity (or unless X-COM 2 has DLC out by then). I can only give one game at a time my attention and EQ TLP is currently sitting in second place.

For MMOs in general this decline is good for them. It’s good that people have stopped trying to out budget and out muscle WoW. It’s good that developers are realizing that you can’t build an excellent graphically represented top ten MMO feature list and jam it into a soulless world and call it an MMO and reap profits. In the mindset of what spurs innovation and better business/ thinking:

  • “Business as Usual”  – until
  • “Crisis” – which leads to a necessary
  • “New way of thinking” – which, once realized leads to a
  • “New Reality” – which once executed, leads to
  • “Business as Usual”

Good businesses skip crisis and self create a new way of thinking, but that doesn’t happen often in most industries and definitely not gaming. MMOs already hit “crisis” with the huge failures of TESO, Wild*, and major MMO closures such as Warhammer Online. The “new way of thinking” is occurring with the Kickstarted and crowdfunded niche titles. We just haven’t seen the new reality yet.

But we will, and hopefully that creates games that aren’t just bullet pointed feature sets, but worlds to explore. The focus you see in these new kickstarted titles does give some hope. EQ:N also gave some hope.

The only hope I have now, is patience for a new reality.

[link to TAGN for all sorts of good coverage about it.]

Pillars of Looternity

Pillars of Eternity by Obsidian was a Kickstarter darling impulse buy while making the rounds of some of my favourite blogs (and reading praise for the game). I bought it, loaded it up, tried it, and abandoned it. I had mostly forgotten about it until this weekend. Now that I have completed X-COM 2 I decided to wait before an expansion to dig back into it in Ironman (Ironperson?) mode. I don’t want to burn out on its glory.

POE was loaded and in my active games library. I thought back to why I didn’t enjoy it, and I was having a hard time finding a class I liked. Nothing more frustrating than spending an hour or two in a game just to find out you don’t like your class, and have to re-roll in a static game story environment. After doing that four times I dropped the game completely. I decided to try again. Each time I tried the first time around I would go for interesting sounding classes, only to find that I had no tank style class to protect me quickly in the game. So, I tried rolling a Paladin this time to cover that big hole.

And it worked.

I put in some major hours in the game on the weekend and it has been fun. They spent a lot of energy and time on lore (and it shows) and i find myself reading a lot of the books and scrolls I find. The party I have put together so far is a nice cross section of style, skills and attitudes and I find myself very much completing every task, quest, and major story plot. I am in completionist mode – when I uncover an area I carefully remove fog of war on the area entirely, and go “door to door” to NPCs to see if anyone needs my help (I am a Paladin, after all – one of the good guys!)

My gripes are small with this game:

  • The polish feels a bit off (does feel like a Kickstarted title instead of the type of look and feel you would get from a professional studio. That is more a personal opinion than fact.)
  • I dislike the movement during combat and find non-tank melee particularly difficult to keep out of danger.
  • There is this pause between slow mode and looting at the end of a fight that feels like it lasts 10 seconds before I can loot. With the amount of fighting in the game, it is starting to drive me nuts. It should turn off faster and allow faster loot! It is consistent that this happens after every fight. Admittedly it is pretty minor but still, it is starting to get on my nerves a bit. One of those little annoyances that repetition makes larger
  • The loot system. After an epic dungeon crawl I sold (what felt like) no less than 300 swords, shields, random weapons and armor. 300! My little party of four has amazing large pockets. Or head balancing skills. Or muscles. Or both.

Everyone likes loot and in a game that requires money to advance well (if you like having a nice home) it does a poor job. Make everything worth way more, but give limited slots to carry it around. Make people pick and choose what to take. Add packmules or other methods to increase this size in a reasonable manner. Currently it seems there is no limit to what you can carry. This hurts immersion.

Once again I find myself starting games many have already long forgotten. I never did promise to be on the cutting edge of game releases!

X-COM 2 Misses

Clever blog title is clever. I am talking about X-COM 2, and 2 misses the game had that should be updated / changed for expansions, or X-COM 3. What is that category called on Wheel of Fortune?

Before and after. Boom.

Now that we are completely off the topic at hand, here are the two biggest misses X-COM 2 had. Hot off the heels of my 40 hour play through (which I loved!)

  1. Environments. The entire world is now woodlands or futuristic city. There were missions in Africa, Canada, Australia, heck, the whole world! Yet, there were no sand dunes. No snowfall. There was also no wind, rain, etc. etc. It was very immersion breaking to play a global game with only two backdrops, and while I appreciated that we only did assaults on sunny, clear days, the likelihood of that happening is extremely low. Also, why no missions at night?
  2. The six soldier limit. There is a huge game opportunity here to expand that to 12, even 18. Imagine how crazy that would have been. Considering how fun and engaging the 6 person teams were, I think that could only have been improved. I am not saying EVERY mission, but I don’t see why you couldn’t have 2 or 3 Skyrangers delivering simultaneous missions.

I am assuming both were a limitation of the engine (which does chug under the current conditions often).. yet, with all the sales the game had it would be a reasonable expectation that improving the game for the next iteration could also increase that number.

Still, a must play in my book and after a short break I’ll be trying Ironman mode to save the planet. On sunny, clear days in two locations near you.

20 Hours of X-COM 2

After 20 hours of X-COM 2 I have emphatically decided it is the best game I have played in five years. I don’t know which exact game it is replacing from 5 years ago as the new best, only that it is so good and so perfect for me right now, that surely it is at least the best in the last 5 years. Maybe the last 10.

There are several things that hits the nail on the head just perfectly for me.

  • It is challenging, but not frustratingly so. I bet if I notched it up a difficulty level or two that it could become that way, but I have a lot of upward movement. I am already dreaming of doing an Ironman campaign (after I complete the experience the first time) at a higher difficult level. It really flows so well right now.
  • Character customization and care is just right. I think there is something to say about games where I control people (the Commander!) instead of being the people/person. When I do something dumb in WoW, I do it to my own character. When I order my sniper to hit a rooftop solo and he walks into a couple aliens and gets killed, I feel like I killed him and feel shame and remorse. I care more about my X-COM team than most of the MMO characters I have played.
  • The Meta Game of research, engineering, scanning and salvage feels way smoother than X-COM of 2012 and is a big improvement.
  • The game completely checks off the box of “just one more day, one more turn”. Which sucks you into a mission. And some new research, that needs some more supplies. Which sucks you into “just one more day, one more turn…”
  • The Avatar program is a nice, threateningly reminder that you can’t just dawdle along (hello, Fallout 4. Lost child where?) and builds tension.

I love the turned based format – it really works. It also makes me dream (again) of what other games could be made that would be perfect in this format. Mechwarrior, I am looking at you.

Still, until then, I have a game to complete, and a new mode to get into right after. Looking forward to expansions already, which is a bit silly (I know) but hey, it’s nice when you hit it off with a game just right.

I Met Bile

Bile

One thing I particularly love about MMOs (well, the old experience for sure) is that you made bonds playing them. Those stopped for me when I stopped playing WoW, but I have several people as Facebook friends that I have never met in real life. There are a few that I can’t wait to, despite us not playing for years together. Those are some pretty solid bonds.

I travel for work so when I end up in a city where I have friends I like to see them. Fate would have it that I would meet my fellow Shadowblade from DAOC (circa early 2000’s) named Bile. Since we have been Facebook friends I had the general gist of his life, what he did, his wife, the things he did for fun – but it was special to sit down face to face, hug it out, and drink some solid and delicious beers together. We didn’t talk a ton about video games (both of us play far less) but when we did it was with a certain fondness and twinkle in the eye. Remember that one six hour session where we fought back and forth with the Hibs, nearly winning that first keep back on early testserver days on Pendragon? Yes. We both did. (I wiped on the keep master, but that is another story.)

I wonder if today’s gamer makes those bonds. I’d suggest no, since there is less time and human commitment with LFG’s, etc. But that isn’t fair for me to say since I barely play MMOs anymore – and the ones I do offer fantastic single player experiences.

X-Com 2

I bought it last night, but haven’t fired it up yet. I loved the original (the real original) and even played through the expansions. X-Com circa 2012 was a fantastic, friendly remake and I look forward to all I have read about the good of X-Com 2. Except the fast paced missions. I am such a planner and safe player that that will definitely be out of my element. I’m sure I will grow to appreciate it. Look at me, always on the cutting edge of new games!

Diablo III

I finally hit 70 in Diablo III and now have 15 Paragon levels. It’s been an easy to jump in and grind game with my son, and we have put in an hour a night several times the past week. I own both the PC and Console version but played it on the Console only – 60″ TVs and company is better on the big screen. I am regretting that now because there is no season play on consoles. Also, with all of the poor doom and gloom with Blizzard right now, why aren’t they making an expansion for this game? New class, new scenes, new money. I am sure people would pay for it!

I have a new blog being launched soon, but not about gaming. A new passion I have picked up! I’ll be announcing and releasing soon!

Birthdays and Forums

My birthday was yesterday!

I was reminded of such while driving home from a hockey game at 12:04 am by 2K forums. While I was appreciative of the well wishes I did have to chuckle a bit. The last time I posted or visited those forums was in 2008.

We at 2K Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Thank you 2K Forums. I did only sign up there to deal with a game breaking issue for me with Bioshock. Still, it’s the thought that counts! A good opportunity here would have been to say “we haven’t seen you in a long time, maybe some of these posts will interest you?”, or even “here is $10 off one of our games at Steam in celebration!”. A little silly to send me a one-liner during a marketing opportunity.

They weren’t the only ones – thank you Dungeon and Dragons Online!

We at Dungeons & Dragons Online Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Wait.. that looks awfully familiar. Are they sharing boards? Maybe using the same software? Aren’t you free to play now – why not give me a message to entice me to maybe download and try the game out again! Maybe some free currency to get me started! (I did really enjoy it at beta test and launch.) I don’t think I have played since then either.

Not to be outdone, a game that I played more than the others (and have tried to promote on this site often, even though I haven’t played in a while) was the good folks at the Project Reality Forums.

We at Project Reality Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

I don’t remember the last time I posted there either, it has been so long. Although I did re-download the game recently. That message (besides being identical to the other two) could have been so much better with a “check out our latest patch / video / update” message as well.

Finally, I did get one from a board I have checked recently!

Happy Birthday from your friends at Cruisers Forum; we wish you all the best in the year to come.
May your boat be leak free.
May your sails be in good repair.
May the winds be fair, the weather kind and
May your days be filled with the exquisite pleasure of new adventures, fabulous destinations and excellent friendship.

Happy Birthday!

If they were selling anything, I’d probably buy it. Look, a modicum of effort was given. It probably took them 5 minutes to set that up. I have been toying with the idea of buying a sailboat so have been reading a lot there to understand what I would be getting myself into.

If a general interest forum can do that, companies that live or die off of sales probably could too. The constant reminder that for digitally native companies they leave a lot to be desired in terms of customer engagement. These are easy misses, low hanging fruit, and entry level marketing think.

My other takeaway here is how few forums I actually sign up for now (well, since 2008, apparently) since most information is more readily available elsewhere. Also, that a whole slew of other forums didn’t bother to wish me a happy birthday – probably because they sorted that I stopped visiting there at some point. In 2009 when I brought this up I had received birthday wishes from Pirates of the Burning Seas and Warhammer Online as well – but they have a fair excuse for missing it this year (and all years upcoming!)

Fallout 4 – The One Big Change

Fallout 4

I feel like a bad Blognation member right now, as I completely forget where this upcoming thought was inspired from. I did read it around the Blogosphere (and even commented on it, and fleshed it out a bit further), so this is driving me a bit nuts. Still, I felt it worth fleshing out just a bit more. (If I can remember, or if that Blogger comes here, please remind me so I can link appropriately!)Fallout 4 is my go to right now. Last night I decided to sit down and finish the main story line. And promptly became distracted, and did four other quests (by accident) before restarting the real, next quest in the storyline arc (and promptly running out of time and going to bed before I even moved the arc along one step). That is the fun (and danger) of Fallout 4. The letdown in that greatness is the travel system.

Like many games Fallout 4 has an instant travel system between points you have visited before. It destroys immersion. Last night (for example) I had a raid on one of my settlements where they called out for help. I was able to transport there instantly. I get that crossing huge swathes of danger infested wasteland is inconvenient. I also understand that I could have walked there if I had chosen to. The latter option also takes away from game play. There needs to be a balance. Even better, if there is a balance that enhances game play instead of taking away from it – and the solution is really easy.

Vehicles.

Vehicles in Fallout 4 would add an entirely new dimension. First off, those carcasses of vehicles all over the roads could now be moved and salvaged, adding a new element of game play (clearing roads between destinations) for faster travel times.  There should also be different levels (wheeled cars, hover vehicles, boats, etc.) that you can now build, maintain and use throughout. As you progress, you can open new and better vehicles (hello, vertibirds!) that either companions can support you with and even more reason to secure your settlements (you need somewhere to store them vehicles! I strongly feel that this type of travel in the game would really add to the game, create a better sense of urgency, and a fun mode of travel that could bridge the difference between hour long walk and instant teleportation.

World of Warcraft

I really have the itch to catch up in World of Warcraft. Not to raid or anything, but partially because I feel like I have unfinished business there – leaving my poor characters behind the leveling curve. Mists of Pandaria was the one expansion I spent the least amount of time in and I figure I could probably hop in Warlords and do the content I want to do in 30 days. All in all that’s not a bad proposition as I bought the expansion for 75% off. I also have a strong desire to catch up on all the raids that I couldn’t do, but can now solo. While I have often been sad about the class homogenization that gutted much of what was interesting in that game, some of Legion Class preview things have me very interested. The Outlaw spec of the rogue and the very clear separation of Hunter Specs (hello, Survival!) have me very interested in WoW for a change. I just struggle with that one, perfect character for me that I want to play. I think if WoW was able to satisfy my desires by providing a class that I loved (more on that in a second) or the ability to be different classes with a weapon switch (which is my now preferred MMO model type, since I do not have time for alts!) then I could still be playing.

My favored play style is 5 man dungeons. This means, to optimize my time in WoW I should tank. This is simple enough. Tanking isn’t always great for questing though, and if I do want to raid, I definitely wouldn’t be prepared as a tank. You need 1 tank for a 5 man and 2 for a 25 man. Main healing for 5 mans is also an option so the offspec is also important. Let’s look at the classes I have:

Paladin (Isee) has been my main 5 man tank the past couple expansions. I hate the healing style on the Paladin, and not a big fan of Ret. (At level 90)

Druid (Couchon) was my first character and my raiding main for most of my WoW life. I liked healing on the Druid but did not like either of the DPS specs. (at level 85). I always hated that new gear didn’t show up on bear form.

Shaman (Isey) became my main during the SSC raids as we were lacking Shaman and particularly the nicely powered Chain Heal. I switched then and quickly fell in love with the totems and style of the character. I also specced Enhance which was helluva lot of fun. My dream in WoW is to have Shaman as tanks, I would resub lifetime. (at level 85)

Rogue (Coosh) – favourite to level, but I hate long DPS queues for dungeons (if those things are still a thing.) I often level the Rogue first to learn the dungeons from a DPS perspective before tanking them. (at level 90)

Those are my high level characters. Currently leaning Druid.

The other interesting option, since I have a free level 90, is to go Warrior. I have a level 72 Warrior LLewella  (thanks Roger Zelazny). Tanking as a warrior is interesting, even moreso with the Gladiator option to do DPS as sword and board.  That is enticing. Unfortunately, that spec is leaving in Legion. I am getting way ahead of myself now.

The fact I am thinking (and reading, and writing) about WoW is a pretty telltale sign I’ll be back there soon. I just need to find the right mindset and class to dive back in.

Worst Enemies and Lists

Happy New Year!

I have been playing my same old boring games, but feel compelled to update briefly. This post is composed of two subject matters, and two lists!

Gaming List

  1. Fallout 4: I am 45 hours in and just went back to the main story line. I just did the Glowing Sea, as a point of reference for those who have finished the main story arc (I have no clue if that makes me close or far away..). It is so easy to get sidetracked in that game and I absolutely love exploring and following breadcrumbs. Still, that makes me feel like a terrible father as I do have an abducted son out there somewhere I should go find. Oh look! Meat sacks! What could possibly be in THAT building?
  2. EQ TLP: Cabby my Wizard is level 8 now and done Orc Hill, and about to enter Crushbone. I love the zen of grind in EQ. I still think I am going to unsubscribe for a bit. I hate feeling like I am not getting time in to justify a subscription, so it is one of those titles where I may sub for a month, take one off, go back, etc.
  3. WoW. Yes, WoW. 75% off Draenor made me buy that, but I haven’t resubbed. Add to that I actually had a good experience with a CSR from Blizzard (shocker!) and received 7 days free time. My wife goes away on a business trip next Tuesday which gives me 4 uninterrupted nights of gaming. I am going to go back to WoW to play in WoD. No clue who I am taking through, probably my Paladin so I can tank 5 mans. If 5 mans are still a thing. I wish Shaman were tanks..

Lifestyle List

Continuing with my “I has health” theme I am going to caution you on who will become your worst enemies if you decide to go down the path of living a healthier lifestyle. This list may be a little sad. This is in order from not so bad to absolute worse. Without further ado – my ‘Worst Enemies” list, from personal experience.

  1. Your friends. We all have them, those really fun, awesome friends. One of mine, who likes to drink 10+ beer a night on weekends is constantly and incessantly harassing me for only drinking three or four a night with him over the same time period. Three or four is actually a lot. I have learned self control. I like beer. I like friends. I just don’t feel the need to get out of control, completely plastered, and make an ass out of myself (and feel equally as terrible the next day.) Oh, I still have my benders – but I pick and choose those nights. I don’t want to do them regularly. Really special occasions, etc. You will have people who don’t want to change their lifestyle pick on you for changing yours. The answer to them: ” I don’t judge you for your lifestyle, don’t judge me for mine. We’re friends. I support that you like to cut loose. Support me that I want to tighten it up.” Worst case scenario: you make new friends that align more with your values. It shouldn’t have to come to this, and if it does, it is on them, not you.
  2. Your spouse/significant other. If you already have one, and they are comfortable with you and your life. I have had my wife (of all people) tell me she now finds me unattractive. I am too skinny. I care too much about what I eat (I drink wine and eat peanut butter cups daily!). I get up too early (and workout, then take the dogs out, then make breakfast for everyone, and lunch for school for my son, and coffee for her, all before she steps out of bed 2.5 hours later than me). Sounds like a pretty good deal. Still, to be fair, she has gained weight while I lost it – so she is probably trying to tear me down instead of build herself up because she isn’t happy with herself. You may face the same obstacle. The answer to them: “Let’s do this together. Just try a couple times a week with me. Start slow and see if you like it”. Worst case scenario: it is actually kind of scary to think that you have to choose between improving your personal health and lifestyle and someone you love. Divorce isn’t something that anyone wants to explore so you really need to find common ground. Just don’t sacrifice a long and healthy life to keep that.
  3. Yourself. Probably not a big surprise, but you are the one person who can most easily and efficiently stop you on your own journey. That is a sad truth. As Henry David Thorough once said “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. what a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.” Scary stuff to face against – yourself. The answer to you: “I will do my best and take small steps to get to the long term goal I want. I want to live a long and rewarding life. I choose to own my health and wellness.” Worst case scenario: You fall down and fail. Often. The best part is, you control whether you get back up or not.

The good news of all of this is that it gets easier. It really does. The negative voices get quieter as you surround yourself with people that now understand, or new people. Your body gets less sore with each effort. You get into a routine where being active is just as normal as eating and breathing. You just have to start and not give up.

Day One is Tomorrow

I last posted about how I am going to post more about my personal health journey and things I learned that worked for me. This is very fitting being New Years Eve today, with a whole host of resolutions to be made by a big chunk of the world to start tomorrow!

And most of them fail.

That is because a lot of the goals aren’t realistic, and besides, people don’t really want to do them, they just know that they should. When I was a smoker I tried quitting a dozen times. The first 11 I didn’t even really want to quit, but I knew that I should. So I’d say I was quitting, make it anywhere from a day to a month, and then do what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to smoke. It wasn’t until I truly wanted to quit smoking that I did – and deep down I knew it was time, and I was looking forward to stopping. I quit and never lit up again. I don’t even remember being a smoker now.

That is what happens during resolutions. People say what they think they want, or what they think other people want for them, and make that a goal. If you don’t feel it deep down in your core that you truly want to do something or make that change then don’t say that you will. Be honest with yourself.

All that being said, if you want to make healthy changes, here are my three  simplest tips:

  1. Start tomorrow. The next day is always Day One. You don’t need to plan for a year from now. You can set a longer term goal, sure, but really, just set a goal for the next day. That way when you slip up and “fail” a day (which you eventually will!) you just reset and go the next day. Some days I would wake up and plan on working out but didn’t have it in me and I would play video games instead. You have to let yourself have the room to enjoy the things you love, but don’t use them as an excuse to skip your goals.
  2. Wake up early. Even those times when I meant to work out and didn’t, I still got out of bed. I know that can be hard for a lot of late night gamers but I started waking up at 6am, then 5:30, and now 5:00 – and I still go to bed at the same time. When you are healthier you sleep better. I get 6.5 hours a night and it feels like I get 9 hours that I used to take. When the rest of the world is asleep your time is yours. No kids, no spouse, no work. That is your time to rise and shine.
  3. It’s the journey not the destination. You read about these huge changes that happen “overnight” but those are often years of dedication. Don’t get caught up in the end goal, get focused on the next day, Day One.

I am going to post by “before” and “after”. I didn’t take a proper before (honestly, I didn’t feel good enough to!) and before I do, I want to make one thing clear: I am a bit uncomfortable posting this (I always have been in my own skin) but also this is not to be vain or “look at me” – but it is just to show what small steps lead to. Besides, I don’t even care about how my body looks now – what I do care about is how I feel about myself now.

On the left I was 38, 230 lbs, smoked a pack a day. I did some sports like Hockey, but I’d play for an hour and then drink 4 beer and eat 2 pounds of chicken wings. (I still play hockey, and I still drink beer after the game.) On the left, I was incredibly unhappy with almost everything in my life. I was borderline depressed. I smoked first thing when I got up and last thing when I went to bed. I wasn’t attentive to my child. I was unhappy and self absorbed. I ate out a lot.

On the right, just a month ago, I am 41 and 180 pounds. I don’t smoke. I still love wine with dinner and beer with friends, but I eat better. I love cooking and make sure I have leftovers that I can take for lunch the next day to work so I don’t eat out. I eat healthy but delicious food. I actually like Broccoli.

The left to right transformation wasn’t overnight, it took three years, and I took small steps along the way.

First step (year one)  was to work on my diet and try to be more active. Just 2-3 times per week. That’s it. At that you aren’t going to see any big changes anytime soon and that isn’t the point – the point is to create new habits. Go out for an hour walk, get on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. Just make sure you start moving more often every week. Start finding good foods to eat that you like and cook with less butter and salt (less, not none!). Make small steps.

Second step (year two) was to increase the intensity and frequency of my workouts. Instead of cardio, I started doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) such as Insanity, etc. They lasted 45 minutes and I could barely finish them, but I did the best I could. I also started doing some weights (what I felt I could handle). I still had a sweet tooth but didn’t deny myself anything – I just made sure I balanced it with good workouts.

Third step (last 12 months), where I am at today, is a 5 day a week 45 minutes per day mid to heavy compound exercise routine, with hockey 2x a week (on top of it) AND I do cardio a couple times a week if I feel like it. Always under an hour. It doesn’t feel like work it is complete ME time. I get up at 5:00 am, have a coffee and read news, etc. until 5:30, and then work out until 6:30 – and my family doesn’t get up until 7:00 – 7:15. By then I have breakfast ready for everyone, lunches packed for school, dogs fed and taken out.

And I feel amazing.

My outlook on life has changed. I eat what I want when I want, including sweets and eating out, but I balance that with being active and eating healthy foods (that I now LOVE! – I never thought I could eat broccoli. now it is one of my favourites. It took a lot of time to get there.)

At times, especially end of year one and into year two I would get frustrated. I didn’t feel great. I didn’t look different. It took me a while to change my perspective that I’d have abs and pecs after light workouts and cardio. I’d beat up on myself when I became lazy or skipped workouts. I had the wrong perspective. I am really glad I stuck with it because at some point my perspective about everything changed and I realized I was doing this to be healthy, live a longer, more fulfilling life, and be happier – not to look like a fitness model. After that things became a lot easier. Getting up was easier. It became fun. It became routine, and once it was routine it became easy.

It took three years. You won’t change overnight and you won’t change on a resolution – but I promise you if start taking small steps you can get to where you want to be.

Day One is tomorrow.

I Has Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone.

Just a quick note – I am on a beach right now not thinking about blogging, but spending time with my family and thinking about the world. There is so much unrealized potential and I hope as a global community we start treating each other the way we need to.  I wish nothing but the absolute best to you and your family, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. Lets all focus on being better people, and better to those around us. That small initiative will spread quite far and wide if everyone just treated everyone within ten feet of them with the respect and dignity human beings deserve.

Cheers my friends, both old and yet to be. May the upcoming year be the one step of many.

You don’t have to wear a cape to be somebody’s hero.

As Always,

Isey (Chris)

I HAS PC, Life and Interwebs

Where to Fit(bit) In!

Blogging has been a struggle as of late – I am playing four games, four of which are “out of date”, and I am plodding along at my own pace within them. I am not discovering anything new about these games (or myself playing them) and all of that adds up to the deeper questions of “where do I fit in” and “can I produce anything worth reading” in and for Blognation. High School all over again! Thankfully now that I am in my 40’s I do not have the care or worry about what other people think of me, because you get to that point in your life where you just realize you are what you are and you have what you have. This goes to most things physical, emotional, and spiritual at this stage. Perhaps that realization is enough to share and the young whipper snappers can appreciate that! Although there are far more persons with far more wise views on life in general, and as already mentioned, I am at peace with that.

Should I write about my EQ Wizard grinding CB again (for joy and levels), my level 16 max-charisma persona in Fallout 4 saving the wasteland (one cleared out building at a time), my new Ranger in Pillars of Eternity sorting out what it is he needs to sort out, or my Sword/Fist Templar plodding through Egypt in TSW? This is where my foreseeable gaming is taking me – I am enjoying each in the bite sizes I have and do not feel the need to venture into anything new. I am more likely to go in the other direction and go to older titles that are sitting installed.  This makes me a pretty terrible gaming commentator (writing style, grammar, and other generalities aside!) although I have still been poking my nose into other blogs to comment here and there. I love consuming community generated content.

So I am venturing into some newer territory and will be trying some posts on the ‘Life’ part of the tagline of the blog (‘Life and Interwebs’) and talk about things I have learned about health. Not just physical health, but mental and emotional as well. Oh, I’ll tie it into gaming where I can and where it makes sense, but Arywen noted once that gamers typically (or stereotypically?) tend to use their spare time to game instead of eating healthy and/or using their time to exercise. I am in the food industry (healthier for you fast casual) and have made health important in my life. Not above all else, but it is there as part of my life balance. And it wasn’t always that way.

in 2013 I was 230 pounds and smoked a pack a day. I loved smoking. I smoked the first thing when I woke up, and last thing before I went to bed. I was active in some sports (baseball and hockey) but those were largely leagues based around “beer” and camaraderie. Skate for an hour and then drink 4-6 beer and eat 2 lbs of chicken wings. The activities after the athletics not only completely negated the activity itself, but probably everything active for the entire day. I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t manage stress well, I didn’t eat well, and although I was a generally pleasant person to be around, I wasn’t really happy. I had a great job. I had a great kid. My wife and I weren’t really connected but we had a good life together. Things just fit out of balance.

Fast forward to today and I do an activity nearly every single day. I get up at 5:00am and exercise before the rest of my family gets up. I cook everyday, and make food that tastes amazing AND is healthy too. I am going to share a lot of my journey with you here, in bits and pieces and what I feel is relevant. Maybe it will inspire you to make small, positive changes in your life. Maybe you don’t care and are already completely happy with where you are in your life. I promise nothing here but to share my honesty on what I do and who I am, and how I feel it has benefited me. I am in the best place in my life, for the most part, and it has had a positive outlook on my stress, my relationships, my work, my free time, and overall, my outlook on life. I will share mindsets, workouts, heck, even recipes! Plus whatever good habits I think I have developed that are worth sharing. The main starting point is that it has been a long journey, I am far from perfect, but focus on it every day and feel like I moving in the right direction. I am not not a doctor or professional trainer, so take any advice through that lens.

Starting small here, and tying it back to the title, I bought a Fitbit. Not just for myself, but for my entire corporate team (45 of them). “Gamifying” health is one easy way to get gamers started. Fitbit has a clear set of daily goals (that you can set for your own pace) that is in simple format, and covers all aspects of basic health. Number of steps, glasses of water, calories burned, hours of sleep, number of floors climbed, daily activity minutes, and miles walked. It is on your phone or on a webpage and is just a constant, small reminder of some small but important things you should be doing everyday. The fun part has also been tracking how things I do affect my body. Here, for example, is one night when I played hockey (complete with a picture of me playing hockey, which Fitbit doesn’t do)

Now I am pretty sure the Fitbit slid over my taped wrist at that big drop off, but other than that is neat to see. Generating interest is part of generating habits – you get interested in a game and you play. So, as a motivator, the Fitbit has been a hit. Same for the team – you see people challenging each other and pushing each other to be more active. It has been fun to see. It will be even more interesting to see how long that effect lasts. I’ll still talk about gaming that feels right to talk about, and this isn’t a wholesale change in blog format or anything – just a newer focus I am going to play on some posts with in the new year. I have a vacation coming up (hot, island, far south!) but it will be fun to step into this just in time for everyone’s resolutions in the new year.

Santa Isn’t Real

Well, the cat is out of the bag.

Oh, not for me. I knew about that a long time ago. Give me some credit.

My 10 year old asked the big question last night as we were getting him ready for bed. He is in a grade 5/6 split class (due to Ontario regulations on class sizes it’s a weird setup this year – there are 4 split classes) and some of the grade 6 kids were letting other, younger kids in on the ‘scam’. I knew this question was coming eventually and had prepared myself somewhat for it. Instantly, after the question, I wanted to draw from my own experiences – how did I feel when i found out for the first time, and I couldn’t recall it at all. I have either completely suppressed the experience and it could/will come out in some devious personality quirk and/or moment of high stress and/or weakness, or it really wasn’t that eventful to me to begin with. I am hoping for the latter.

The conversation went pretty smooth. (using a lot of Sons and Dads in the language to clearly outline who is talking. We don’t talk to each other that way normally, just illustrative purposes!)

“Dad, is Santa real?”

“No, he isn’t.”

<cue tears bursting out>

“Son, its okay. I know this is hard to understand.” <hugs and fatherly comfort>

“Dad, I just feel so stupid. I used to get so excited when I got a Santa gift. It meant I was good to people and things and now I just feel so dumb”

“Son, it is important to realize the spirit of Christmas and why we do that to begin with. Maybe in the old days there really was a man who made and gave gifts out to all the good little kids, but what is important to live on is that we need to be good to one another, take care of your family, and appreciate each other. That is what the spirit of Santa is all about. And now that you know that.”

“Dad – you are telling me you would buy yourself gifts from Santa too, why would you do that?”

“It was to ensure you believed that Mom and Dad were good too.”

“Where did you hide everything Dad?”

“Not telling you son, we still use those spaces to hide other things. Surely you can see that one person, even magical, couldn’t do every single house in the world in a night, and that parents have to band together to make that happen. Magic still exists but often it is just in the way people treat one another positively.”

“What about the Easter Bunny Dad?”

“That’s me too. Kind of creepy to think there is a bunny running around our house when we are sleeping, no?”

“The Tooth Fairy came and left me $20 just last week….”

“That’s me too Son. And I didn’t have anything smaller. Trust me, I heard it from the other parents about that one too..”

And we sat and talked for a while about a whole host of topics around holidays and the things parents do to make them special for their kids. It was a really good conversation. I told him that every kid learns this at their own time and place and to try and keep it special for other kids until they learn from their parents. Some learn of this really young, some older, everyone has their own time frame. He knows there are kids on his hockey team that still do and decided that it was best to let them enjoy it while they could.

My son is also a bit of a smartass sometimes, and the next day when he was waiting for his bus outside of our house and I drove past him to go to work I put my window down, told him that I loved him and that I hoped he had an awesome day at school and that I would see him afterwards.

He replied:

“Thanks Santa”

gave a huge smile, and off I went.

Maybe he is going to turn out ok afterall.

The EQ True Box Server

I thoroughly enjoyed my foray onto my first TLP server when Ragefire and Lockjaw were recently launched. I made a few posts about it and stepped away due to learning that a new server would be launching soon – and did not want to “lose” my time investment. At the time I left EQ it was the first game I had paid a subscription for since WoW a few years ago, and it was a great investment. The “fun” return on a 1999 based game for all intents and purposes is quite ironic in this current world of amazing and free games. The hook was initially nostalgia, but afterwards, it just proved to be a better game for my tastes.

So, with the December 9 launch of the Phinigal Server I am proudly announcing my return to EQ. Again. And for a long haul.

Starting in three months.

This time the expansions are locking at a rate of 90 days, no vote. This is great. I hope they stop expansions before craziness of mercenary NPCs (and whatnot) make it into the game, but who knows. The 90 day start time for me is my always conundrum of what-character-to-play-AND-STICK-WITH-THIS-TIME and to which i have it down to Enchanter or Wizard. Kunark starts in 90 days, Enchanters get Breeze at 16 in that scenario, and leveling to 30 just got infinitely better. If I sell myself on the Wizard (which was the most fun I had in EQ in forever) then I start early – if not, I get 90 days to avoid over camping (and finish off Fallout 4). Or, if I be sensible and roll a Cleric for free groups and loots I can start right away too.

The True Box server is actually being supported by the program makers of multi box software. I was digging deep on some googling threads where the owners of the programs were encouraging their paying users to not violate the ToS  on the new server. Some even publically announcing they wouldn’t be using their time to write code to fix any blocks Daybreak puts up. A prominent dev of that software even mentions he thinks that it could bring down EQ boxing completely on all servers if they push hard on the Phinigal server, when there are every other server you can box on at Daybreak’s support. Fun and odd balance that relationship is, and will be fascinating to see how things play out.

To clarify, all True Box means is that multi-boxing on one PC is now banned – you can pull out 3 separate laptops with three keyboards and still do it.

Gaming life is good – Fallout 4 is fun for what it is, TSW continues to drive a great single player experience stuck in an MMO (imagine if it was built like Fallout where your choices impacted the world permanently and you could actually solve some of these mysteries? Missing out on a huge opportunity!), Star Wars: Battlefront is a great time waster and soon I’ll have EQ to itch my true MMO gaming desires.  I find myself with not much to add to the conversation, but also nothing to complain about. I’ll take that.